Nicosia, Feb 19 (CNA) — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) has sent a letter to US President Barack Obama, underscoring Cyprusʼ importance for US interests and calling on the newly elected President to follow a policy in Cyprus that would respect international law. The letter is signed by President Aleco Haralambides
Executive Director Nick Larigakis.
AHI calls on President Obama to “ask Turkey to demilitarize Cyprus, withdraw its 40,000 occupation troops illegally in Cyprus, return to Turkey the 180,000 illegal settlers/colonists from Turkey in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949 and tear down the green line barbed-wire fence across the face of Cyprus which, together with Turkeyʼs 40,000 occupation forces, is the cause of the alleged isolation of the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied northern part of Cyprus”.
Moreover, AHI refers to the ongoing Cyprus talks which began in September 2008 between Cypriot President Demetris Christofiaas and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and urges the US President to “warn Turkish leaders not to manipulate the current talks or restrict Mr. Talat at the bargaining table”.
Christofias and Talat have been engaged in negotiations since early September last year, aiming at reunifying the island, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.
“Unless Mr. Talat is allowed to negotiate solely on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots, without the external pressures that are being placed on him by Turkey, there will be little chance for progress to be made”, AHI notes.
In its letter to the US President, dated 17 February, it is stated that “the removal of Turkeyʼs troops, colonists and barbed-wire fence would end the Turkish Cypriotsʼ economic isolation caused by Turkey and go a long way to solving the Cyprus problem because the Greek and Turkish Cypriots could then work out a fair and effective agreement”.
The letter, signed by AHI President Aleco Haralambides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis, stresses that “advocating these policy decisions would underscore support for the rule of law and respect for international law. This would illustrate that the United States truly wishes to advance the cause of solving the 35-year-old Cyprus problem”.
According to AHI, “continuing former failed policies that promote a double standard in applying the rule of law to Turkey and the continuing appeasement of Turkey does not serve U.S. interests”.
Noting that “there is no legal distinction between Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait”, AHI adds that “the Cyprus problem is one of invasion and occupation by Turkey”.
Regarding the Cyprus – US relations, it is pointed out that “Cyprus is an important nation for U.S. interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. The so-called ʽSovereign British Basesʼ on Cyprus and the British listening posts on Cyprus are on Cypriot territory and have been of significant importance to the United States. Cyprus is a member of the European Union (EU) and a Western-oriented country. It is important to US interests that it remains so”.
AHI reiterates its policy on Cyprus, saying “we support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing key American principles, the EU acquis communautaire, U.N. resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European Courts–as in the best interests of the United States”.